UNICEF to lead procurement and supply of Coronavirus vaccines

UNICEF will work with manufacturers and partners on the procurement of vaccine doses as well as freight, logistics and storage of COVID-19 vaccines, on behalf of global COVAX Facility

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NEW YORK/COPENHAGEN, 4 September 2020 – UNICEF is leading efforts to procure and supply Coronavirus vaccines in what could possibly be the world’s largest and fastest ever procurement and supply of vaccines, as part of the global vaccine plan of the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX Facility) led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

With several vaccine candidates showing promise, UNICEF, in collaboration with the PAHO Revolving Fund, will lead efforts to procure and supply doses of Coronavirus vaccines on behalf of the COVAX Facility for 92 low- and lower middle-income countries whose vaccine purchases will be supported by the mechanism through the Gavi COVAX AMC as well as a buffer stockpile for humanitarian emergencies. In addition, UNICEF will also serve as procurement coordinator to support procurement by 80 higher-income economies, which have expressed their intent to participate in the COVAX Facility and would finance the vaccines from their own public finance budgets.

UNICEF will undertake these efforts in close collaboration with WHO, Gavi, CEPI, PAHO, World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners. The COVAX Facility is open to all countries to ensure that no country is left without access to a future Coronavirus vaccine.

Sacha Deshmukh, Executive Director at UNICEF UK, said:

“For the first time, we have a clear picture of what is possible when it comes to delivering a Covid-19 vaccine. As governments, manufacturers, researchers and suppliers work tirelessly in the fight against coronavirus, UNICEF will lead the charge to ensure that all countries have access to the initial doses when they are available.”

UNICEF is the largest single vaccine buyer in the world, procuring more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually for routine immunization and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries. It is the main procurement partner of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which over the last 20 years has reached more than 760 million children with life-saving vaccines, preventing more than 13 million deaths. UNICEF will use its market shaping and procurement expertise to coordinate the procurement and supply of Coronavirus vaccines for the COVAX Facility. This could potentially double the agency’s overall vaccine procurement throughput volume in 2021 alone.

In response to an expression of interest that UNICEF issued in June on behalf of the COVAX Facility, 28 manufacturers with production facilities in 10 countries shared their annual production plans for Coronavirus vaccines through 2023. According to the timelines the manufacturers indicated, the span from development to production could be one of the fastest scientific and manufacturing leaps in history.

A UNICEF market assessment, developed by compiling information submitted by vaccine manufacturers along with publicly available data, revealed that manufacturers are willing to collectively produce unprecedented quantities of vaccines over the coming 1-2 years. However, manufacturers signaled that investments to support such large-scale production of doses would be highly dependent on, among other things, whether clinical trials are successful, advance purchase agreements are put in place, funding is confirmed, and regulatory and registration pathways are streamlined.

This assessment also illustrates, among other things, manufacturers’ responsiveness to the COVAX Facility’s design and objectives—a key pillar of the ACT-Accelerator initiative, which is a new, groundbreaking global collaboration to accelerate the development and equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics to address the COVID-19 pandemic across countries of all income levels.

A key next step will be ensuring self-financing economies sign up for the COVAX Facility by 18 September, which will allow COVAX to support early, at-risk investments in increasing manufacturing capacity on a broad scale, through advance purchase agreements.

Currently under development by WHO, the COVAX allocation framework will guide how and where UNICEF, PAHO and other procurers working on behalf of participating countries supply COVID-19 vaccines that are secured by the Facility. Initial dose allocations are expected to be scaled to enable countries to vaccinate health and social workers, followed by subsequent tranches of vaccine doses that would enable participating countries to vaccinate populations at higher risk of critical COVID-19 disease.

“UNICEF has been critical partner in the Alliance’s success over the last two decades – helping us reach more than half the world’s population with life-saving vaccines,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi. “This expertise and experience will be important in ensuring that COVAX – as a global effort to procure and deliver safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, on an accelerated timeframe, and at an unprecedented scale – can protect the most at-risk, wherever they may be in the world. Together we can work to end the acute stage of this pandemic, including its devastating impact on individuals, communities, and economies.”

UNICEF, Gavi, WHO, and PAHO have started critical preparatory work for country vaccine readiness in collaboration with partners and national governments including:

  • Working with device manufacturers to plan availability of safe injection equipment and cold chain requirements for the vaccine;
  • Developing guidance with WHO and training to support vaccination policies and appropriate handling, store and distribution of the vaccines;
  • Working with manufacturers on freight and logistics solutions to get vaccine doses to countries as quickly and safely as possible once they are allocated;
  • Supporting countries in planning for vaccine delivery, including targeting those most at risk and transport and storage at point of service delivery;
  • Ramping up efforts with civil society and other local partners to ensure that people are well-informed about the Coronavirus vaccination process and putting measures in place to enhance trust and tackle misinformation about Coronavirus vaccines.

“With our history as the leading UN agency procuring and delivering vaccines, and vaccinating over half the world’s children, UNICEF stand ready – but we can’t do it alone,” Deshmukh added.

“As one of the leading donors to GAVI, the UK has been an early supporter of the development of COVAX. It’s now vital that the UK government, with its newly formed FCDO, continue to show global leadership by ensuring equitable access so that all countries – not just the richer ones – receive the vaccine at the same time and at an affordable price. This is critical for saving children’s lives, protecting healthcare workers and promoting global health security.”

Unicef UK’s Save Generation Covid appeal is supporting children and families impacted by Coronavirus across the world. Visit unicef.uk/donate-generationcovid to donate and help #GenerationCovid.

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Download photos, b-roll and the expression of interest from manufacturers here.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Download photos, b-roll and the expression of interest from manufacturers here.

To know more about UNICEF’s work on immunization, visit https://www.unicef.org/immunization

  • The coronavirus pandemic is the biggest and most urgent global crisis children have faced since World War Two.
  • Children’s lives are being upended. Their support systems ripped away, their borders closed, their educations lost, their food supply cut off.
  • An additional 6,000 children around the worldcould die every day from preventable causes over the next six months as the coronavirus pandemic weakens health systems and disrupts routine services like vaccinations. That’s one every 15 seconds.
  • UNICEF’s “Save Generation Covid” appeal is the largest ever for children in our 73-year history, and we urgently need funds for lifesaving support and services to ensure that children survive this crisis – and thrive beyond it.
  • Together we can Save Generation Covid.Visit unicef.uk/donate-generationcovid to donate and help save #generationcovid.

For more information, please contact:

Yemi Lufadeju, +44 20 7375 6199, YemiL@unicef.org.uk

Unicef UK Media Team, 0207 375 6030, media@unicef.org.uk

About UNICEF 

UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children. As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK.

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